Pollen-receptive stage of single vs double roses

My pollination strategy this spring is to pollinate early in the morning blossoms that have just opened but haven’t yet released their own pollen.

It seems to me that a blossom would normally be most receptive to pollen about the same time that it opens and releases it’s own pollen.

Highly double roses seem to take so much longer to open than single roses, and since doubleness is a trait that has been added by breeding, I’m wondering if double flowers might be receptive to pollen before the blossom fully opens. It’s harder to time it right on double blossoms, and it would make it so much easier if one could just rip off the petals at the stage where the outside petals had unfurled but the inside petals were still fairly tightly wrapped.

Does anyone have any info, experience, or thoughts on this?

I ran into that problem this morning as I was emasculating some Belle de Crecy x Frontenac flowers. As I was removing the pollen I noticed there was pollen on my finger. These flowers had maybe 20 petals so they weren’t very double and they had just started to open. But I don’t remember seeing pollen on my finger the other times I emasculated these flowers. So hopefully they didn’t self pollinate.

But a good rule of thumb for judging when a flower is ready to emasculate is to give them the squeeze test. If the bloom is soft and squishes between your thumb and finger then it should be ready to emasculate. If it’s still hard then it’s too early. I wouldn’t try to remove all the petals at once when removing the petals of very double flowers because you can break the flower stem. It’s best to remove them in stages. That is how I did it this morning with some Scentimental flowers that I emasculated and pollinated.

When their sticky is the time. Depends on the cultivar, some full ones are only ready after the petals have fallen. If you don’t want to come back to it just stuff the whole pollen flower in there and let the females petals hold it in place. It’s worth a shot.


Somewhere on this forum, Natalie posted at TAMU, they pollinate as soon as emasculate. I started that practice as soon as I read her post and it appears to work just fine. It saved a great deal of time.

I’ve been pollinating at the same time as emasculaing for the last three years. Sometimes I protect the flowers after I have pollinated them if it’s looks like rain or it’s going to be really hot and sunny, just in case the stigmas aren’t ready to receive the pollen when I put it on.

I recall several years ago working with Orange Triumph, and after much frustration, discovering that it was receptive (and sticky) well before the blossom passed the squeeze test. I don’t know if it was weather related, or if it was cultivar related, but I don’t think there is a hard and fast rule. once I figure this out, I was able to set numerous hips that season.

I pollinate right after I emasculate. I judge the right time by figuring out when they become sticky. Its a trial by error process.

For example.

Incantation starts shedding pollen early when the buds are a little bit hard and the stigmas are sticky at this point and remain sticky for longer than anything else I can think of. So it has a long window off opportunity but if you don’t emasculate early you will get a lot of selfs. But at least its selfs are nice.

Easy Does It, R. foloilosa and Blue Skies are sticky for me way before the pollen begins to shed but the window of opportunity on these blooms is short in my climate.

Scabrosa, Anne Endt, and Newport Fairy all release their pollen way before the stigmas seem receptive.

Most roses I find the stigmas become receptive and sticky shortly after pollen begins to be released.

So it is a matter of trial and error. I find if others have success with a plant and I don’t it usually means I have to adjust the time I pollinate. The good thing is pollen remains receptive for longer than you would think. I try to pollinate right before the stigmas become receptive. I know their is always going to be self seedlings among my crosses many times. Some of this has to do with working around my work schedule. After using parents for a while it becomes easy to distinguish true crosses from these selfs in most cases. It helps I tend to do a lot of crosses with two distinct parents.

For years, I paid attention to the stigma being ‘sticky’. I’ve been following Natalie’s advice she posted here in a previous thread and pollinating as soon as I emasculate the bloom. Even when they don’t impress me as particularly sticky, it has worked. Based upon how many hips have resulted, it really doesn’t seem to make any difference here, at least with those I’ve used as seed parents.

When I have many blooms to process on any given morning there is simply not enough time to pollinate them as I emasculate without risking the anthers getting ahead of me.

You can assess whether pollen has dehisced with the use of a magnifying glass. I use one like this:


Since almost the beginning, I have pollinated immediately upon emasculation of blooms at the advice of Betty Jacobs. It has worked beautifully. In fact, I don’t like pollinating blooms where the stigmas have become sticky. When that happens, I have to wipe off my finger between each bloom because it causes some pollen to stick to my finger and I don’t want the sticky residue to contaminate my pollen cups. I have found that the rough surface of the dry stigmas do an amazing job of holding onto the pollen regardless of whether or not they are sticky. I prefer emasculating blooms early on the morning of the day that they will open.

Thanks everybody for your responses!